If you’re considering retiring to Spain, whether part-time or permanently, then thinking about finding somewhere to live will undoubtedly be one of your first considerations. Buying a property in an unfamiliar location can seem like a daunting prospect, so here are a few tips to help get you started:
- Location, location, location
Make sure you consider all the elements that are important to you in the decision-making process about where to buy and settle – that may include lifestyle factors, accessibility, climate, affordability, or even investment potential – and do your research about the different areas and the neighborhoods within each of those areas as you work out exactly what it is that you want from your new life abroad.
- Try before you buy
Consider renting first before committing to buying, that will enable you to get a sense of the local area and perhaps try a few different locations; familiarise yourself with the different types of properties available and which offers the most practical solution for you, and get a feel for what it will be like to live day to day in that environment and with the facilities available.
- Familiarise yourself with Spanish property buying processes
Spain’s regional differences extend into its property buying legislation and processes. This means fees and taxes vary from area to area and some are even negotiable, for example there are no fixed fees for lawyers or estate agents. The buying fees and costs involved will be different to those which you may be more familiar with in the UK or other locations, as will the way fees are charged and the responsibilities of the buyer and the seller. There can even be differences in advertising practices too, with the same property being advertised by different agents at different prices. Make sure you are aware of all the factors to avoid pitfalls and costly mistakes.
- Hire a qualified, registered lawyer
Having a qualified independent solicitor (abogado) who is familiar with the buying process on your side is really important and something you should consider early in your planning. Ideally, find someone that is bilingual to assist with easy and effective communication and advice at every stage.
- Be certain of the legality of your property
Whether it is in relation to the legality of the land registry, planning permission, the property quality and structure, outstanding debts or even the credentials of the lawyers or estate agents involved, there are many ways in which foreign buyers can suffer at the hands of unscrupulous practices. It is important to be cautious and check all these factors at least, before proceeding with any purchase.
- Visit in the off-peak season
There can be huge differences in many Spanish regions between peak summer season, when most of us are used to visiting, and the winter season when things often get much quieter. Many of the bars, restaurants and even some shops may close; fewer tourists may mean less ‘buzz’ and mainly the Spanish-speaking community remaining; and the cooler (or colder) weather can impact lifestyles and living conditions. Familiarise yourself with these seasonal differences so you can factor them into your decision-making.
- Don’t compromise
Know what’s important to you, take time to do your research and wait until the right property comes along. You wouldn’t jump into a house purchase in the UK that wasn’t right for you so don’t make that mistake when looking for your retirement property in Spain. There is a high supply of stock with new properties regularly becoming available so make sure you find what’s right for you.